Friday, May 25, 2007

Playing possum

NZ possums are an amazing critter. Kiwis love ‘em and hate ‘em, all in the one breath. We have a similar attitude to possums as we do to bunnies – the fewer of them around, the better.

A prime example happened back in Kiwiland last night - a possum on a Wairarapa powerline knocked out electricity to Masterton, Carterton, Greytown and Featherston. Thankfully, justice was served immediately to the culprit - the possum exploded after touching the powerlines, which caused electricity to arc metres through the air to blow up a nearby water main.

There are reportedly 7o million possums in NZ, chomping through seven million tonnes of native and non-native vegetation per year. With a human population of four million, that’s quite a ratio.

High on cute factor – they’re remarkably good looking compared to the right ugly ones I would dispatch from this world when we lived in San Diego – possum byproducts are now seeing the retail light of the world. The fur is being made into high-end bed spreads and jackets, while the hollow-fibre strands are being woven into cozy gloves, scarves and jumpers. Dang, I’ve even seen possum fur nipple warmers!

Most folks will see possums on the road at night, dazed by your oncoming headlights. It’s your duty to try and hit them. NZ’s fabulous national museum, Te Papa, even features a possum skeleton that’s melted into a road’s tarseal.

3 comments:

Capt'n "O" Dark 30 said...

You're scaring me with this opossum story. Plus you scared the "O" right out of Opossum

:-)

Michael said...

So after we get all the Florida raccoons, we move on to the possums, right? Just want to get the order correct, here... LOL

DaveO said...

I love your pragmatic attitude toward the natural world. Just wrote a blog entry on a porkie that was caught gnawing on our camp. We buried him with full honors. Thanks for the stories.